LTER site established at 2007

Site manager: Yagil Osem

Contact: Yagil Osem

Operating Organization: KKL


General Site Description:

The Kdoshim-forest Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) is an experimental set up established in 2008 in a mature Pinus halepensis forest. This long-term research was designed to address silvicultural issues related to the management of mature, first generation, man-made, pine forest ecosystems in Israel and the design of their next generations as sustainable multiple-use forests. The Kdoshim LTER site is part of the Israeli LTER network – MAARAG. The Kdoshim LTER site provides a comprehensive well designed experimental infrastructure to study long-term effects of silvicultural manipulation (specifically overstory thinning) on vegetation dynamics, forest structure and ecosystem function. Four overstory thinning treatments were applied within 70×70 research plots: 1) clear cut, 2) heavy thinning – 100 tree ha-1 (65% reduction in stem basal area), 3) moderate thinning – 300 tree ha-1 (35% reduction in stem basal area) and, 4) control with no thinning – ca. 500 tree ha-1. Additionally, adjacent non-forested area was assigned as a reference. Climate and microclimate and various aspects of vegetation dynamics, forest function and biodiversity are monitored continuously since the application of thinning treatments.


Purpose of Site:

The study was designed to contribute to the following forest management goals: 1) conservation and enhancement of the health, vitality and longevity of the current forest generation, 2) establishment of the next forest generation based on natural regeneration processes and, 3) enhancement of forest biodiversity Ecosystem function and resilience. The specific study aims defined according to the above mentioned management goals are to study the long-term effects of overstory and understory silvicutural manipulations on tree health, vitality and longevity, natural regeneration, biodiversity and ecosystem function. In terms of ecosystem function the research focuses on water consumption and use-efficiency.


The research in Kdoshim addresses several sub-goals some of which are: 1) the development of methods for monitoring forest water condition and drought stress, 2) the development of an approach for assessing forest structure and function through leaf area organization (LAO, e.g., Leaf Area Index, Leaf Area Distribution, Leaf Area Dynamics), 3) understanding forest’s vegetation patterns and dynamics through plant functional traits (PFTs).

History of site:

The forest was planted in 1969 as part of extensive afforestation efforts carried by the Israeli forest service – KKL. Planting density was 3000 tree ha-1. The forest received two thinning treatments prior to the establishment of the experiment at the age of 10y and at the age of 20y with residual tree density of ca. 600 tree ha-1. In 2007 an area of ca. 30 ha was selected for the study. Vegetation surveys were conducted prior to the establishment of the experiment during 2007 and 2008. Thinning treatments which established the experimental setup were carried out during the summer of 2009.


Monitored parameters:

ClimateAir temperature
Air relative humidity
Wind speed
Wind direction
Global radiation



Air temperature
Air relative humidity
Wind speed
Wind direction
Photosynthetic active radiation (PAR)
Soil water content
Forest inventoryTree density
Tree mortality
Tree height
Tree stem diameter (DBH)
Tree crown projection
Stand stem basal area
Stand biomass
Overstory crown cover
Overstory leaf area index (LAI)
Understory vegetationWoody cover
Woody height
Woody Biomass
Woody composition
Woody LAI
Herb biomass
Woody and herb Plant diversity
Forest natural regenerationPine recruit density
Pine recruit height
Pine recruit DBH
Oak recruit density
Oak recruit height
Oak recruit crown dimension
Other tree species recruit density
Other tree species recruit height
Ecosystem functionGross primary productivity – GPP
Evapotranspiration – ET
Water yield
Water use efficiency – WUE
Leaf area efficiency – LAE



  • Osem, Y., Zangy, E., Bney-Moshe, E., Moshe, Y., Karni, N., Nisan, Y. (2009) The potential of transforming simple structured pine plantations into mixed Mediterranean forests through natural regeneration along a rainfall gradient. Forest Ecology and Management 259: 14-23.
  • Osem, Y., Zangy, E., Bney-Moshe, E., Moshe, Y., Karni, N., Nisan, Y. (2012) Understory woody vegetation structure in manmade Mediterranean pine forests: variation in community structure along a rainfall gradient. European Journal of Forest Research 131: 693-704.
  • Calev, A., Zoref, C., Tzukerman, M., Moshe, Y., Zangy, E., Osem, Y. (2016)
  • High intensity thinning treatments in mature Pinus halepensis plantations experiencing prolonged drought. European Journal of Forest Research: 135:551-563.
  • Gliksman F, Haenel D, Osem Y, Yakir D, Zangy E, Preisler Y and Grünzweig J (2018) Litter decomposition in Mediterranean pine forests is enhanced by reduced canopy cover. Plant Soil 422:317-329. DOI 10.1007/s11104-017-3366y.
  • Weid, A., Hodgson, J.G., Leschner, , Dovrat, G., Whitlam, J., Manela, N., Melamed, Y. Osem Y., Bogaard, A. (2021). The association of arable weeds with modern wild ceral habitats: imokications for rconstructing the origins of plant cultivation in the Levant. Environmental Archeology. DOI: 10.1080/14614103.2021.1882715
  • Zangi, E., kigel, J., Cohen, S., Moshe, Y., Ashkenazi, M., Fragman-Sapir, O., Osem, Y. (2021). Understory plant diversity under variable overstory cover in Mediterranean forests at different spatial scales. Forest Ecology and Management. DOI: 1016/j.foreco.2021.119319
  • Weid, A., Green, L., Hodgson, J.G., Douche, C., Tengberg, M., Whitlam, J., Dovrat. G., Osem, Y., Bogaard, A. (2022). A new functional ecological model reveals the nature of early plant management in southwest Asia. Natute Plants 8(6) DOI: 1038/s41477-022-01161-7.